Adobe today announced that it has released a beta version of Photoshop Lightroom 3 for Mac and Windows, the company's software for digital photo management and post-production that competes against Apple's Aperture.

Available as a free download on Adobe Labs, Lightroom 3 beta delivers a preview of new tools that will be in Lightroom 3, including more intuitive importing, unparalleled noise reduction and sharpening tools, enhanced slideshow capabilities and direct publishing to online photo sharing sites like Flickr. Adobe encourages photographers to test this early selection of new features and provide the product team with their feedback.

Lightroom project manager Tom Hogarty provides further detail on the new beta in a blog entry announcing the release.

For this latest release we went back to the drawing board and revisited what we believe are the fundamental priorities of our customers: Performance and Image Quality. Lightroom has been stripped down to the "engine block" in order to rebuild a performance architecture that meets the needs of photographers with growing image collections and increasing megapixels. The raw processing engine has also received an overhaul right down to the fundamental demosaic algorithms that now allows unprecedented sharpening and noise reduction results.

Hogarty notes that Adobe is not finished adding and refining features for Lightroom 3, but is engaging users at an early stage in order to ensure that the finished product reflects the needs of its customers.

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